“He’s a good boy”
Strange but true
You can place your dog on your lap while your dentist cleans his canines.
Our downtown Minneapolis dental office offers a unique service to their patients – an emotional support dog.
April Klein, a hygienist at J&D Dental, started bringing her 4-year-old English Goldendoodle to work last year when she realized it might help relieve anxiety in nervous patients.
The Klein family first got Ollie at the height of the COVID-19 pandemic when he was just a puppy and the dental office was temporarily closed.
When Cline, 47, finally returned to work, her husband and two daughters came to clean up and brought their fluffy, 80-pound dog with them.
Klein’s husband, Jerry Klein Jr., is. ‘Very anxious patient’ – but this visit doesn’t seem so bad.
“While he was lying in the chair, Ollie jumped on top of him and fell asleep,” Klein told The Washington Post. “He wasn’t bothered at all by the teeth sounds.”
She added: “Ollie helped my husband relax and said he felt better being there.” “That gave me an idea: What if Ollie could help some of our other anxious patients, too?”
The idea was that Ollie could provide stress relief and increased happiness for those who don’t feel completely comfortable at the dentist.
“He’s a good boy, and he was really quiet,” one patient, Debbie Zeiger, 61, told WaPo. “I’m amazed at how much he helped.”
Previous research has shown that interactions with dogs, whether your own or someone else’s, can actually boost your health — even if they’re brief, says Nancy Gee, a psychology professor and director of the Center for Human-Animal Interaction at Virginia Commonwealth. The university told NPR.
Gee noted that evidence in studies suggests that spending just five to 20 minutes with a four-legged friend can lower people’s levels of the stress hormone cortisol.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention has noted that some people with pets at home recover from medical procedures more quickly than patients without pets.
About 36% of people in the United States have dental phobia — fear of dental treatment — while 12% have extreme fear, according to the Cleveland Clinic.
Dentophobia, also called dentophobia, can cause intense anxiety in a person at the mere thought of going to the dentist or while physically present in the dentist’s office.
The Washington Post reported that J&D Dental’s owner, dentist Jennifer Herbert, agreed with Klein that Ollie could provide emotional support to patients who requested him — as long as other patients that day did not approve of the dog’s presence in the office.
Although Ollie is not a service animal, Klein said he has been fully vaccinated to comply with guidelines and regulations set by the Occupational Safety and Health Act (OSHA).
She also makes sure that everyone who works with patients follows the hygiene practices set by the American Dental Association.
Herbert, 51, sometimes brings her own dog to work to hang out behind the front desk, and she said she’s “a big dog lover.”
“Dentistry is not an easy profession – no one tells us that coming here is the best day of their life,” she said. “It’s been a game changer having Ollie here. He brightens everyone’s day and has been a huge success.
“He’s a very calm dog,” Klein added. Patients tell us that having him with them made this the best appointment of their lives. They feel like they are wearing a warm weighted blanket.
One patient, Sue Heger, claimed she had had “bad experiences” at her childhood dentist’s office and was excited to learn of a dentist who had an emotional support dog.
“It was the complete opposite of what I experienced as a kid,” Heger, 57, told the outlet. “For 30 minutes, I stroked Ollie while he rested his upper body on me, and I have never felt more comfortable.”
Even non-anxious customers at the dentist loved having the four-legged friend around.
“I don’t have any fears or dislikes (for my teeth), but I enjoyed his gentle presence on my lap,” Maya Norman, 42, told WaPo of her date with Ollie. It was a huge distraction. I don’t have a dog, but I love them. An hour with Ollie and super clean teeth? Yes please.”
If patients want Ollie to be with them during cleanings, the puppy will jump on their lap, cuddle between their legs, and lay his head on their chest, Klein explained.
Ollie is an employee of the practice and even appears on their online employee roster. He attends once a week and usually sees about eight patients in one day, the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported.
“We’re not here every day because we don’t want him to work too hard,” Herbert explained. “And we want to make sure that everyone who comes into the office on those days is okay with being here.”
But Ollie is hardworking and wants to spend more time seeing patients.
“Ollie loves being around people, and he walks to the door every morning when I grab my jacket and wallet,” Klein said. “He now believes he should be allowed to go to work every day.”